First National Financial LP

Borrower Perspectives: Danny Iannuzziello, Skyview Realty Ltd.

  • First National Financial LP

In 1989, Danny Iannuzziello started Skyview Realty Ltd., a full-service brokerage firm specializing in the sale of multi-residential properties. In the almost 30 years since its founding, Danny, President and Principal Broker, and his team have shepherded Skyview into a leadership position in the Ontario real estate market. During the past three decades, Danny also diversified the business, acquiring and repositioning properties, in addition to brokering sales for clients. Faithful to the values of trust, integrity and professionalism, Danny and his team are committed service providers, offering full spectrum expertise from internal professionals and a network of partners. Regardless of the client or deal, they have a priority focus – helping clients sell their properties at the right price, as quickly as possible, with minimal issues.

Danny shares his perspectives about the evolution of the industry, why he’s had such an enduring partnership with First National and what’s contributed to First National’s longevity for the past 30 years.

Q: How have you seen the industry evolve in the past 30 years?
DI: Pre-1996, there was a disdain for opportunities outside a very specified geographic range. People weren’t considering properties north of the 401, in Etobicoke or in Oshawa. Subsequent to rent control legislation, we started to see a change, and people began moving outward. We branched out too, and now own buildings in Brockville and Niagara Falls for example. I also think that the market has become more sophisticated operationally. People are running buildings far more effectively and efficiently. CMHC has certainly incented owners and managers to evaluate buildings more discerningly. For example, we’ve revised our maintenance approach based on CMHC guidelines and policies. It’s beneficial to us from a financing perspective, as well as delivering added value to our clients.

Q: When did you start working with First National?
DI: We’ve been working with First National since 1996. So that makes it 22 years.

Q: Why did you choose First National at the outset, and what made you keep choosing First National?
DI: Twenty-two years ago, we were primarily brokering. We started to see more and more of First National in various transactions. Clients that we respected were choosing First National for larger deals, and the company’s reputation was growing. As our relationship with our First National team grew professionally and personally, First National became our predominant recommendation to clients.

On the brokerage side of the business, we engage First National to help us analyze and assess what level of financing we can secure. Dru McAuley and his team always give us the straight goods. They deliver what they promise, and often exceed those expectations. That level of service helps us add value for our clients. We know that First National will take care of the borrowers that we refer. We are 100% confident in First National’s response and consider our team there essential partners in our business.

On the ownership side, it’s a similar story. First National delivers. Not all deals are easy and straightforward. Dru and the team take it to the next level for us. For example, two years ago, they reviewed our portfolio, which at the time comprised 850 units. They wanted us to look forward. To help us obtain that foresight, the team put together a comprehensive presentation on our behalf to CMHC, covering how we reposition buildings from the time we buy them to the time we refinance them, the type of landlord that we are and what we had available for financing. We got a focused view of what we would be able to finance if we wanted to grow.

Q: How has First National helped you grow your business?
DI: The CMHC presentation that I mentioned before really stands out as an example of First National’s proactive and supportive approach. Dru came to us and genuinely wanted to help us be better, stronger and more profitable. And it wasn’t a one-time thing. Dru and the team are constantly taking the initiative and presenting opportunities that fit with our mandate and philosophy. Together, we have found hidden value in our buildings and leveraged that value strategically. For example, First National’s knowledge of CMHC’s energy policies has allowed us to audit our buildings, uncover utility benefits and secure rebates. With First National’s help, we are becoming better landlords, which in turn is fueling our growth.

Q: What do you value about your relationship with First National?
DI: First and foremost, I value the people. Dru and I have become good friends outside of business. We have a deep, mutual respect for each other and we are able to socialize while maintaining our professionalism. There is a deep level of collaboration between our teams, so we are constantly sharing ideas, insights and perspectives.

First National also takes a leadership approach and offers progressive thinking. We get insights on mortgage industry trends, changing legislation and estate planning direct from the experts, which helps us educate our clients. That knowledge is also valuable to us on the ownership side of our business. It allows us to stay ahead of the game.

I also appreciate the ingenuity in financing and the propensity to take smart risks. First National provides solutions based on the intricacies of the deal rather than some template or check box. We bought a building a few years ago, and the solution included short-term financing with a refinance seven months later. It was somewhat non-traditional from what we may have seen from other lenders, but it was the right solution for that deal. We saw that same commitment and faith in our capabilities when we acquired our Brockville properties. Anyone can do an easy deal. The difficult ones provide the real opportunities to increase service levels, reputation and revenues.

Q: Thirty years is a significant milestone. In your opinion, what has contributed to First National’s longevity?
DI: We’ve seen so much change in this industry since the mid 1990’s. There was a distinctive shift from a Toronto-based market to more geographic diversity across Ontario and Canada. First National has been able to see the trends, stay ahead of them and support its clients through them. It is a company that has always remained ahead of the curve. We’ve tried to follow in those footsteps with our growth strategies. We have been able to evolve this family business into a company that people want to work for and that is recognized for how we think and the risks that we’re confident to take. And we couldn’t have done that without First National. We consider Dru, his team and everyone that we are fortunate enough to work with there, partners in the truest sense of the word.